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Planting Apricot Trees

Planning

  • Plant new trees in early spring, fall planting in mild areas can be successful if trees are dormant.
  • Buy dormant, bare-root, 1-year-old trees, if possible.
  • Although most varieties are self-fertile, fruit set is better when planted with one or two other varieties nearby. Trees will start bearing in the third or fourth season.
  • Expect 3 to 4 bushels of fruit from a standard-size tree, 1 to 2 from a dwarf variety.

Preparation

  • Choose a site in full sun. Northern growers should put trees on the north side of a building so trees warm up as late as possible in the spring. Apricot trees do well in a wide range of well-drained soils.

 Planting

  • Space standard-size trees about 25 feet apart; plant genetic dwarfs 8 to 12 feet apart.
  • When planting apricots, choose a site in full sun. In cold climates, set trees on the north side of a building, so that trees will warm up later in the spring and blossoms will be delayed until the danger of frost has passed. Apricots are not very particular about soil type as long as it is well drained.
  • Place your tree in the hole and spread the roots carefully. Apricot trees need to be watered slowly and deeply, out past the root zone. This means irrigating so the water penetrates about three feet deep and as wide as the tree’s canopy. Deep watering helps trees survive drought and assists with fruit sizing during late April and May. Mulch around the trees to retain moisture and keep grass down.

Care

  • Apply a small amount of nitrogen fertilizer each spring. Where apricots are easily grown, train to an open center. For colder areas use a modified central leader.
  • Prune bearing trees annually to encourage new fruiting spurs.
  • When fruits are 1 inch in diameter, thin to 3 to 4 fruits per cluster to increase the size of remaining apricots and prevent over bearing one year, little the next.
  • See our article Fruit Pests and Diseases for controls of common apricot pests such as codling moths, peach tree borers, plum curculios, and brown rot disease.

Harvesting

  • Harvesting peaks in July in mild areas and in August in colder ones. The picking season is short.
  • Pick when fruits are fully colored and skin gives slightly when pressed.